Steve’s Car Tip #7: Stop It! …Good Brake Care

Photo Credit:  Right Brain Photography

Photo Credit: Right Brain Photography

You should probably know that without good brakes, your vehicle would not be safe as you may not be able to stop quickly or slow down when you need to.  This may be especially bad when you are driving at higher speeds!  Here are a few tips that might help you:

  1. Free brake inspections are available at many car repair shops.  Take advantage of this free inspection service that may be offered in order to secure your business.  They should check all your hydraulic fluids, brake pads and shoes, caliper and rotor wear along with checking your anti-lock brake system (if your vehicle has one).
  2. Make it a rule to visit your regular ASE certified full-service mechanic shop so you can catch any problems early on and avoid costly repairs to a badly damaged system.  These kind of shops inspect all systems as a preventative measure for good maintenance practice and safe vehicle operation.
  3. Learn to pay attention to the common signs that accompany brake
    problems like your vehicle pulling to one side when applying your brakes, a soft feel to the pedal, jerking when you attempt to stop, leaking around the wheels, strange grinding sounds or grinding noises, or your brake warning light turns on.

If you should have any of the warning signs or need your yearly brake inspection (and are in the Lake of the Ozarks area), call or stop by Gerbig’s Osage Auto Service for quality service that is fast and convenient.

Gerbig's Osage Auto Service

Gerbig’s Osage Auto Service (573) 302-4555

Steve’s Car Care Tip #10: Six Important Facts About Brake Care (that you should know!)


Destroyed Brake Rotors

Good brake care is a necessary and very important aspect of car maintenance. Steve Gerbig, owner of Gerbig’s Osage Auto Service in Osage Beach, Missouri, answers some questions about brakes that many of us might have. Read on for some “food for thought” on brake care…

  1. Question: What about lifetime brake pads… what info can you give on them?

Answer: A lifetime warranty on parts is “appreciable” and a way to get you back to the same place to spend a lot more money the next time. You are likely to be told that you will need other major components that may or may not be required. You are probably going to have a sales pitch for rotors, calipers, brake hoses and other such things like flushing the brake system (kind of a gimmick). So, keep in mind that while lifetime warranty pads are nice, be aware of what the situation may easily turn into.

  1. Question: Should vehicle owners beware of low-priced brake services? Could this be a way to get customers in to their shops to sell other services?

Answer: Yes, this does happen and a way that many mechanic shops operate. This is a way that they might “cover” other cheap services like super low-priced oil changes. Just beware of prices that are very low and other services you might be urged to acquire.

  1. Question: How can a vehicle owner stay “on top” of their brake care as far as not having their brakes get into such a bad shape i.e. like a warped rotor and very expensive repairs?

Answer: Don’t take your vehicle to places that only supply limited services like a business that just does mainly car washes/oil changes or sells groceries/farm supplies/oil changes. These businesses usually do not do a thorough check of your vehicle like a full-service mechanic shop would. I do a complete check of every vehicle to see whether there is a brake problem or any other of numerous other problems.

  1. Question: So, should you go to your mechanic every six months or so for a checkup to see if there is a problem with your brake pads, etc.?

Answer: Not necessarily, let’s also keep YOUR busy schedule in mind here… What you should know is that if you should go to your “regular” full-service mechanic for your oil changes, (even if the franchise place is running a “$5 dollar cheaper special”) they should spot any problems for you before they become a disaster. And, many times you could patronize a place that does tires and maybe brake service, but, for instance, you could REALLY need a timing belt, and they would not provide that service. But, they will try to sell you other “gravy” services when what you BADLY NEED is a timing belt.

  1. Question: If you step on your brakes and they go to the floor – what does that mean has happened?

Answer: Generally, if that would happen, it is not when traveling down the road and stepping on them hard, but when you are going through the drive-thru, using a light-to-moderate pressure scenario. And, every time you let off a little bit and let your car ease forward, the pedal gets a little mushier, sinks a little more…and, sinks a little more…
Question: What does that mean?
Answer: It means you have a leak in your master cylinder. It’s an internal leak – you don’t see fluid on the ground.

  1. Question: What about brakes making noises…what info can you provide on that?

Answer: To be safe, any brake noise should be investigated by a competent mechanic. This may well not even take 5 minutes. There can be a big difference between a squealing noise, & a deeper, “scraping/grinding” noise, & you may not be able to tell the difference. So, be sure to have any noise checked out immediately.

Gerbig’s Osage Auto Service does FREE brake inspections. If you are at or near the Lake of the Ozarks, give Gerbig’s a call at (573) 302-4555. Or, just stop in at 1030 Rowan (Normandy) Rd., Osage Beach, MO. Located just off Hwy 54, behind the U.S. Post Office. Walk-ins are welcome.

06april 047

Header Photo Credit (destroyed rotors): Interiot


Steve’s Car Tip #9: Nine facts about engine timing systems

Audi Timing Belt

Audi S6 Timing Belt
Photo Credit: Ernesto Andrade

In this modern era, many vehicle owners are becoming more and more savvy about vehicle maintenance and repair.  But, timing systems, crucial to good engine performance, are still a mystery to many people.  Here is a short “primer”, nine important facts to know and understand about timing systems:

  1. A timing belt, timing chain or cam belt is a part of an internal combustion engine that synchronizes the rotation of the crankshaft and the camshaft(s) so that the engine’s valves open and close at the proper times during each cylinder’s intake and exhaust strokes. (Wikipedia)
  2. A timing belt is a belt that usually features teeth on the inside surface, while a timing chain is a roller chain. (Wikipedia)
  3. Since timing chains and belts serve to synch the motion of the crankshaft and piston position with the cam shaft, maintaining these will avoid major mechanical failures and help to avoid serious repair bills
  4. A great many vehicles, especially those built in the last decade, might utilize a timing chain for timing the camshaft and valves instead of the timing belt that had been standard on older cars.
  5. Despite the fact that timing chains are much more stronger than older timing belts, they can still break down and be the cause of catastrophic damage.
  6. A high percent of cars that use timing belts, instead of chains, are known as interference engines.  That means that the valve and the piston occupy the same space at different times.  At any given time, there is always at least one or two valves that are at full extension.
  7. If your belt fails for any reason…water pump, idler bearing, etc. …the camshafts will stop instantly.   And, as you are rolling to the side of the road wondering what has happened, your pistons are still going up and down attached to the crankshaft, beating and bending the daylight out of whichever valves are still left at full extension when the camshaft stops (because the cam and the crank are no longer synchronized).
  8. Remember folks, your timing belt should never be left in place more than 100,000 miles.
  9. A good “check” is to look at the exposed serpentine belt, if it’s never been changed, then the timing belt has likely never been changed.

So, your vehicle’s timing system is a crucial part of your engine; your timing system is something every vehicle owner should have a basic understanding of.  And, with proper care, your vehicle should serve you well.  See the other Steve’s Car Tips for some great advice!

If you are at or near the beautiful Lake of the Ozarks, call or stop by Gerbig’s Osage Auto Service for some expert mechanical advice and service.

Steve’s Car Tip #8: Good Summer Car Care

Summer Car Care


Summer is definitely in full swing and with it comes the need for special auto care.  Here is a list of some useful deeds to care for your auto when the temps are soaring, traffic may be heavier, and your car use is up:

  • Engine coolant (antifreeze) is the #1 thing motorists should stay on top of in the summer months
  • Check all your fluids often and perform regular maintenance like oil/filter changes and inspection or replacement of the air cleaner and fuel filters
  • Avoid tire blowout and improve fuel economy by keeping proper pressure in tires
  • Replace old, worn out tires that may leave you stranded in the heat
  • Have your a/c system inspected by an ASE certified mechanic to identify any hazards to your system along with needs for regular maintenance
  • Park in the shade and keep yourself cool with a/c
  • Keep the windows up and the a/c on improves aerodynamics and is ideal for highway travel
  • Protect your paint and interior by parking in a garage, in the shade of a building, or under an awning, when possible
  • Regularly waxing your vehicle to reduce sun damage and paint fading by using a polish with UV protection
  • Keep your interior in tiptop condition by purchasing a sunshade that keeps sunlight from coming in the windshield.  This will reduce fading, drying and cracking inside your vehicle, and keep you cooler when you sit down behind the wheel

Don’t get stranded in the heat.  Proper preparation and maintenance of your vehicle during the scorching summer months is your insurance for smoother vehicle performance.

If you are at or near the Lake of the Ozarks, stop by Gerbig’s Osage Auto Service for expert service.  In business for over 30 years, you will be sure to get the right advice and care for your car needs.

Steve’s Car Tip #6: Economy Car Cleaning Solutions

Clean car

Photo Credit: David Martyn Hunt

Been looking for some inexpensive car cleaning solutions that really seem to do the job?…look no further than this handy dandy guide of economy car cleaning solutions.  Clean your car without breaking the bank while being gentle on the environment, too (in many cases).  So, with a busy schedule and tight budget, clean your car with materials you may already have in your house!
Our Pro tip: It’s always a good idea to test on a small, unnoticeable area first to be sure it won’t damage the fabric or paint on your car.

Washing Your Car

Try a mixture of a dab of hair conditioner and clean water for an inexpensive car wash that’ll make your vehicle’s finish shine, repel water and look like it was just waxed. A good choice would be one that includes includes lanolin as one of its ingredients for even better results.

Shining Up Paint

A little WD-40 will often do the trick to remove tar, tree sap, bird droppings, and dried bugs – always notoriously difficult to remove. It’s also handy for removing old bumper stickers – just spray a little on whatever it is you want to remove and then wash it off.  You may want to use a soft cloth and some gentle rubbing to help speed the process.  For an extra economical solution – try a little bit if creamy peanut butter or shortening on that sticky spot, they can work wonders and are environmentally friendly.

Scrubbing the Windows

Just as women from 50-100 years ago used to use as their major window cleaner – choose vinegar, instead of ammonia. Ammonia can harm some window tints and so it is always best to avoid ammonia whenever possible. There are many commercial products out on the market containing vinegar like Windex, Eco-Touch, and many others.   Or, if you want to save some money, make your own window cleaner. Combine one cup of water with half a cup of vinegar and a quarter cup of alcohol. Mix well and spray away.  Be sure to use a microfiber cloth when cleaning your windows for extra gentleness to the surface.
Another economical, environmentally-friendly solution is to sprinkle some cream of tartar on the dry windshield’s exterior, wipe it down with soapy water, rinse and dry for a sparkling, streak-free view. Your vehicle’s windshield won’t taste better afterward, but it sure will be cleaner.

Cleaning Interior Surfaces

WD-40 is a magic solution for many cleaning needs.  Not only is it good for exterior removal of bugs, tar, tree sap and nasty bird droppings, use it inside to remove gum and grease on interior fabrics and surfaces (spot check first, though).  A little bit goes a long way to remove many stains.  Just spray a little on the spot you want removed, rub it gently with a clean, soft cloth and then with some soap and water and, presto!  The stain is gone.
An all-natural solution to shine up your interior can be made at home with lemon juice and olive oil.  It will make your interior shine bright!  Mix one part fresh lemon juice with two parts olive oil. Dab some on a soft cloth and get to work rubbing it into the vehicle’s interior plastic and vinyl surfaces – being careful to avoid the steering wheel and gas and brake pedals. Polish and rub in the residue with another clean, soft cloth and you’ll have an interior that looks, and smells, great.

Removing That Smell

Ever wonder how your once new car went from having such a fresh smell to the staleness it now has?  How about taking a paper bag and put in some food scraps, a cup or two of dirt, and some fresh grass clippings, keep them in your car for three months with the windows rolled up and the sun beating down.  Pretty disgusting odor after just a few months!  But, a great solution for this is to place a small bag of charcoal under a seat and leave it there to help remove odors and serve as a dehumidifier.
Another odor busting solution is to use baking soda with a pleasant-smelling herb, such as lavender, mixed in can also help replace offensive odors with pleasing ones. Sprinkle the mixture on the floor and fabric seats, let it set for a few hours or overnight and then vacuum it away.

Fighting Stains

A water-vinegar mixture and a spray bottle can remove stains just as good as many store bought cleaners.  Also, try using some corn starch by sprinkling it on a grease or oil stain, leaving it on there for a few hours.  The starch may help to absorb and lift the grease so it can be vacuumed – a real economical solution that works on fresh stains!
Use these natural car cleaning, eco-friendly solutions that are easy on the pocket book for a fresh, clean car that your passengers will surely love!
If you’re around Osage Beach at beautiful Lake of the Ozarks in Missouri – stop in and see Steve at Gerbig’s Osage Auto Repair Service for expert car advice for you.

Steve’s Car Tip #5: Prepare Your Car For Winter

Winter Car

Photo Credit: Vicki Timman

You can avoid many dangerous winter travel problems by planning ahead.  For optimal maintenance, have regular service on your vehicle as often as the manufacturer recommends.

In addition, every fall:
Either have the radiator system serviced, or check the antifreeze level yourself with an antifreeze tester. Add any antifreeze, as needed.
It’s also a good idea to replace any worn tires, and check the air pressure in the tires.  In addition, replace windshield-wiper fluid with a wintertime mixture.

During winter, keep the gas tank near full to help avoid ice in the tank
and fuel lines.
If you are at or near the Lake of the Ozarks region – stop by and talk to
Steve about what your car might need for the winter.   573-302-4555

Dead Battery

Steve’s Car Tip #4: What’s The ONE BEST Measure To Ensure “Cold Weather Startups” For Your Vehicle?

Dead Battery

Photo Credit: QFamily

Winter cold weather seems to bring out the ‘worst’ in vehicles.  How many of us, at some time or another, have gotten up on a cold winter morning and prepared to leave home, only to have a car that won’t start?  Frustrating, huh!? Many factors can come into play as to why this might happen, but the prevailing reason for this is a battery that doesn’t have the “juice” or strength to turn over.    According to Steve, the ONE BEST thing that can be done to ensure “cold weather startups” is to have a good battery.

What happens when your battery is weak in cold winter weather?  When your batter is weak the flow of electrons is decreased .  And, the cold weather slows the flow of electricity, also.  The combined decrease in the rate of electrical flow from both conditions may make it impossible for the car engine to turn over and start.  So, your best defense against this happening is to make sure your battery is in good functional condition.   This is something that a professionally trained auto  mechanic can diagnose for you.

And, hopefully, your battery doesn’t look like this….

Crusty Battery Pic

Photo Credit: Rich Moffitt

And, that your car doesn’t look like this….

Winter Snowed In Car Pic

Photo Credit: Mats Sjödin

All kidding aside, cold weather car startup problems are no fun.  Be prepared and make sure you have a good battery installed in your vehicle.

If you are at or near the beautiful Lake of the Ozarks in Missouri, call or stop by Gerbig’s Osage Auto Service for the BEST service around!

Gerbig's Osage Auto Service

Gerbig’s Osage Auto Service


Steve’s Car Tip #3: Are Your Tires Safe?

new tire photo

Tires.  What would we do without them for our transportation needs?  But, many people seem to not pay enough attention to them, which could be a safety hazard.  So, what should we be looking for when we look at our own tires?

Steve, owner of Gerbig’s Osage Auto Service, says, “In addition to looking at the inflation of tires, look for low-tread or cracking between the tread blocks.”

So, how do you know that your tread is low?

He says, “You need to have at a minimum 3/32 of an inch of tread.”

Anything else that we should be looking for?

Steve says, “Also, you should look for cuts, scrapes or abrasions on the side walls.”

If you are needing some tires, Gerbig’s Osage Auto Service  has a good supply of new or used tires to fit anyone’s price range.  But, whereever you are…don’t neglect your safety and invest in some new tires if you see any of these signs.

Steve’s Car Tip #2: What To Do Before That Long Road Trip?

What to do before that long road trip?

Steve says:   “Most definitely, an oil change at a good reputable shop where a real, professional mechanic is.  You need a shop where they look your entire car over.  Also, don’t go to specialty shops like a tire, brake or auto body shop.  It’s far better to go to a good, general mechanic shop.”

What will they check? 

Steve says:  “They will give a good, thorough check of your vehicle.  A quality shop would be able to check hundreds of things at “nearly a glance” that a specialty shop wouldn’t.”

What kind of certification should the shop have?

Steve says:  “Look for an ASE-certified shop (stands for Automotive Service Excellence).  This certification is issued by the Society of Automotive Engineers.”

If you are at or near the Lake of the Ozarks, call or stop by Gerbig’s Osage Auto Service for excellent, expert service at fair prices.

Steve’s Car Tip #1: Are Your Windshield Wipers Safe?

With all the rainy weather we’ve been having this spring (and more on the way) it’s good safety sense to have your windshield wipers in tiptop shape.  It’s a fact that 90% of driving decisions are based on vision.  When the rain is pelting the windshield and visability is impaired, you are at an increased risk for an accident.  Don’t risk your safety or that of others, check your windshield wipers before setting out or have an expert mechanic assess them.  If at or near the Lake of the Ozarks, Gerbig’s Osage Auto Service will happily help.  Call or stop by (573) 302-4555.

Windshield wiper facts:

  • It’s recommended that wiper blades are changed once every year
  • One in five vehicles have deficient wiper blades
  • Drivers will often wait years to replace wiper blades that wore out after 6 – 12 months of use
  • If you use your washer solvent and the blades streak or chatter, it may be time for new blades
  • It may not be a problem with the blades, but could be the wiper arms with a problem

What will we do to help?

After assessing the exact problem, we will know if the solution lies in simply replacing the blades.  Or, the correct thing to do may be to fix the arm…it could be as simple as straightening it.  It is best to get expert advice and (most important) to not neglect your wipers.

Happy and Safe Driving!

Steve Gerbig

Gerbig’s Osage Auto Service